Tag Archives: fake linguistics

Hurley’s Stick

I noticed recently that I have been defamed by one of Cassidy’s lickspittle ‘friends’ in California, Maureen Hurley. This is in relation to a comment made on this blog by someone called Robo and my reply to Robo:


“The bata scóir or tally stick was usually a piece of wood which Irish-speaking children were forced to wear around their necks. Anybody who heard the child speaking Irish was expected to mark the stick with a notch. At the end of the day the marks were counted and the child was punished for each offence. Watch your language : an bata scóir, the insidious silencer.”

From https://cassidyslangscam.wordpress.com/tag/bata-scoir/

PS The person (unnamed) responsible for the blog where I got this info, at cassidyslangscam, who continues to slander my friend Danny Cassidy, after his death, is a vindictive scourge. He maligns Robo’s comment, yet my Bantry grandmother, FFS, told me the same story. So it certainly was true in the middle to late 19th c., in the West of Ireland. STET!

While I’m not really bothered (being attacked by someone as stupid as Maureen Hurley is like being savaged by a dead sheep), it is a little irritating when somebody lies so casually about you.  As readers of this blog will know, I have not slandered Cassidy, nor even libelled him. (You would think someone claiming to be a poet would know the difference!) The fact is, of course, that expressing your disdain for someone only becomes any kind of defamation if the bad things you are saying are untrue. Because my criticisms of Cassidy are entirely justified, all I am guilty of is not agreeing with Maureen Hurley and I can certainly live with that!

However, before discussing Hurley’s failings in greater detail, let’s just get one thing straight. Anyone reading her comment above would assume that I am arguing that the bata scóir didn’t exist. If you go to my blog and read it you will find the following line: The bata scóir in the National Schools is certainly a fact.

Could I have expressed it any more clearly or unambiguously? The bata scóir was a fact. It existed and I have never denied the fact. Presumably, Hurley failed to actually read my blog post before commenting on it. Either that, or, if she is a total liar like the rest of Cassidy’s friends, she is providing a ‘straw man’ argument, where you set up a nice easy fake target, ascribe it to your opponent, and knock that down instead of actually engaging with your opponent’s real arguments.

As I said in a previous post on Hurley, she actually realises that at least some of Cassidy’s work was nonsense, saying that he played it a little too fast and loose with linguistics, that he didn’t speak Irish and didn’t know the grammatical rules of Irish. Fair play to her for recognising that much. Unfortunately, she does not take it to its conclusion and makes a lot of half-baked and moronic excuses for Cassidy. Here is Hurley sneering at real academics who criticised her friend:

Some pedagogues groused that Danny was an amateur etymologist, and ever-so-eloquently stated that his linguistic claims were “a big heaping load of hooey”; that maybe the award should have been given for fiction instead. I’m sure that was the response Danny was expecting from that crowd. He was a great one to challenge the halls of academe.

In other words, she is giving us the typical unintelligent guff that we have come to expect from the Cassidy apologists. The academics hated Cassidy because they’re a stuck-up crowd of snobs sitting in their ivory towers, not because it was incompetent rubbish. According to Hurley, Cassidy was sometimes wrong but got it right a lot of the time.

As you will discover if you read my blog rather than Hurley’s ramblings, Cassidy was almost never right about anything. It isn’t that there is a solid core of genuine research in Cassidy’s book and that the academic linguists are just carping about a few marginal cases. The truth is that Cassidy’s book is a monumental waste of time, a collection of childish lies and distortions. There are no words of genuine Irish origin in his book apart from the ones that were already acknowledged as such in the dictionaries. Everything original to Cassidy is infantile garbage. And while an Anglo dilettante like Maureen Hurley wouldn’t really care about the Irish language, those of us who speak Irish and use it on a daily basis find Cassidy’s work deeply insulting.

Hurley tries to demonstrate that there is value in Cassidy’s work but because she can’t be bothered reading what anybody else writes, she makes a total mess of it. She quotes what she thinks is a comment given by Daniel Cassidy. In fact, it’s from Terence Dolan, one of Cassidy’s critics, and it’s clearly denying Cassidy’s core thesis:

In an interview, Danny said: “The English language does not often absorb other languages, especially the Celtic languages. Irish has the longest association with English of any language on the planet, yet in England all we’ve got are a handful of words such as whiskey.”

I mean, obviously, if there are only a handful of Celtic words such as whiskey in English, then Cassidy must have been wrong!

After that, things get really surreal.

For example, Danny said the word buckaroo came from the Irish bocaí rua, “wild playboys” or “bloody bucks.” But bó is cow, buachaill is a cowherder (or cowboy, if you will), and ruadh, is, well, red (or red-haired)—so the meaning is close enough. Even if he came at it all wrong.


I have no idea what she is talking about here. This is a total non-sequitur. Bocaí rua means a red-haired playboy – if if means anything. (Bocaí is a singular word meaning playboy, not the plural of boc, which would be boic.) And another word, buachaill means boy and etymologically is linked to the Irish word for cow. But are the two facts connected? No. And where does buckaroo really come from? It comes from vaquero, the Spanish for cowboy. How is the meaning ‘close enough’? Close enough to what, FFS?

Anyway, unbelievably, it gets worse:


When Danny began to point out words “of uncertain origin” is often code for Irish, it struck a chord with me. I knew there were many more Irish words buried within the English language, despite what the Oxford English Dictionary claimed—aside from the usual suspects: smithereens, hoolighan (a surname), and shanty. 
There’s also shebeen, shebang, shindig, Sheila, slew, slogan, lollapalooza, colleen, clan, keen, kabosh, banshee, brogue, brogan, bar, ben, glamour, gombeen, leprechaun, whiskey, etc., to name a few.

This is also nonsense. Shanty, of course, is from French, not Irish, whether it refers to a cabin or a song. Shebeen is from Irish and all dictionaries say so. They are also quite happy to admit that slew, colleen, keen, banshee, brogue, gombeen, leprechaun, gob and whiskey are Irish. (Hurley also treats us to some rubbish about how the e of whiskey is related to Irish uisce – the convention of the spelling of whiskey and whisky by country is a recent convention in English and has nothing whatever to do with different varieties of Gaelic.) Kabosh probably isn’t Irish, lollapalooza certainly isn’t and it isn’t mentioned in Cassidy’s book, and neither is glamour, which certainly isn’t Irish. Shindig doesn’t come from Cassidy’s seinnt-theach, because it doesn’t exist. (It doesn’t come from Loretto Todd’s sínteach either, which does exist but has no appropriate meanings.) Bar doesn’t come from Irish and I’m not aware of anyone ever claiming it did. She says that boycott is an Irish word. Obviously, it isn’t because it’s an English surname, though it did originate in Ireland and like most languages, we have a version of the verb derived from it in Irish (baghcatáil, to boycott).

She also repeats the claim that the OED and Webster’s were rabidly anti-Irish and therefore lied about the Irish origins of words but without any evidence or any reason for claiming this other than her own bigotry and misplaced loyalty to Cassidy. She complains about these dictionaries saying that words were Scottish Gaelic rather than Irish and uses the idiotic argument that somehow Scottish Gaelic IS Irish.

Where did the British think Scots Gaelic came from? Donegal Irish in another lexicon.

Hurley is showing here once again that for a so-called poet, she has a very poor grasp of the English language.  What does ‘in another lexicon’ mean? The fact is, of course, that the Irish and Scottish versions of Gaelic are mutually incomprehensible, though similar. Does ‘in another lexicon’ mean that they are similar but have different words? And if so, could you say that Dutch is English in another lexicon? Or that Portuguese is Spanish in another lexicon? Similar but totally different? What the fuck are you wittering about, Hurley?

And of course, some words come from Scottish Gaelic while others come from Irish. Smithereens and shebeen are from Irish. Pibroch and claymore are from Scottish Gaelic. Bog and whisk(e)y could be from either, or indeed both.

Hurley also claims that glom isn’t in the dictionary. In reality, glom is recognised as deriving from Scots glaum, on record since the 18th century, which in turn came from Scottish Gaelic glàm.

Anyway, I already hated Cassidy’s guts when I first started this blog seven years ago, because of the lying nonsense he had made up about the Irish language. However, writing works of crap research is not illegal. Using false qualifications to get a job you are not entitled to is illegal, as well as being immoral and deeply hypocritical in someone who spent much of his time blathering about social justice. This is the big pile of elephant dung in the room that people like Hurley refuse to talk about.

Cassidy’s sister tipped me off that her brother had no qualifications about five years ago. I contacted the Registrar of Cornell University, Cassie Dembosky, who confirmed that Cassidy was removed from Cornell after four years of study without a degree. And this was later confirmed by one of Cassidy’s supporters, his brother Michael, who says that he used to needle his brother about not having a degree.

In theory, of course, it is quite possible to become a professor without having a degree. If you are a poet of international standing, or a brilliant novelist, or a film director with a dozen highly-regarded movies under your belt, that will be regarded as equivalent to or better than a doctorate. However, Cassidy did not have any such staggering achievements. In fact, he didn’t have any achievements, staggering or not. He was a nobody with no degrees and the only reasonable explanation for his having the status of a university professor without even a BA is that he lied about his qualifications to get that job.

Hurley and people like Hurley might consider that there is nothing wrong with doing that. However, there are rules in relation to fair employment, protocols that protect us from the worst kinds of discrimination. Rules that make it hard for someone to give a job to an Orangeman with no qualifications rather than to a Catholic with an MA on the grounds that the Catholic’s face wouldn’t fit. Rules that guarantee that a gay woman of West African heritage will not be passed over in a recruitment process in favour of a straight, chalk-white Christian dude like the late Daniel Cassidy because he’s a friend of the Dean. I think that Daniel Cassidy essentially ignored these rules and was allowed to do so and I think I am entirely justified in saying that he was a worthless, hypocritical prick for doing that.

Finally, before I finish, I just want to make an observation about the silly little internet picture of a bata scóir which Hurley posted along with her criticism of this blog. As I have said, I know that the bata scóir existed. However, I don’t believe that 19th century schoolteachers had that much time to whittle elaborate notches on pieces of wood, so it seemed to me unlikely that this was a genuine Irish bata scóir. I therefore acted on my hunch and put the words tally stick into Google image and within a few seconds, I found out where the picture came from. It’s of a tally stick that was used to guarantee a debt. It dates from the 16th century and was discovered in 2011 in an excavation in Wittenberg, Germany, so it is not an Irish bata scóir and has nothing to do with the English or Irish languages.

You can find out more here: https://archive.archaeology.org/1111/artifact/wittenberg_germany_tally_stick.html

There are also other pictures of bataí scóir on line which are tally sticks from Baffin Island in Canada. To the best of my knowledge, there are no genuine bataí scóir from the Irish National Schools in existence and we don’t really know what they would have looked like. If I get time, I will post on the whole question of the bata scóir and the available evidence about it, as it is an interesting subject.

C, D and E

Over the last few months, I have been working on a Cassidese Glossary, taking the words in the dictionary section of Cassidy’s book one by one, with less of the invective I have heaped on Cassidy and his cronies in the past.  

A few weeks ago, I completed the As and Bs and then wrote an analysis of the lessons arising from my examination of Cassidy’s claims for words beginning with those two letters, in which I returned to the invective and once again pointed out how dishonest, twisted and incompetent Daniel Cassidy was. I have now completed the Cs, Ds and Es and I will write a short post of the same kind to analyse what I have found in this part of the glossary.

The sections for these three letters contain 72 entries (counting words like Croak, Croaked and Croaker as separate entries, as they were given by Cassidy). As with the 75 entries for the As and Bs, a handful of these are genuine Irish (words like cross and dornick). A number of others are probably not genuine Irish, but the claim for an Irish origin predates Cassidy, for example, dig for understand or cock-eyed coming from caoch.

As with the As and Bs, the vast majority of the words dealt with here are complete nonsense. There is no chance of them being correct. Most of the candidate phrases were invented by Cassidy, and even when they are to be found in Irish dictionaries, the entries given in those dictionaries are not given accurately, but rewritten by Cassidy to make them closer to whatever term he was trying to promote. Most of them, like de áit as the origin of ditch or ciúta as the origin of cute or coillteoireacht as the origin of cold turkey are so puerile and silly that there is little point in trying to take them seriously.  Unlike the As and Bs, where there were several that were not entirely ridiculous (like big bug from boc mór) with the Cs, Ds and Es, there are no entries that are even slightly interesting and worthy of further examination.

The amount covered so far probably constitutes a quarter of the material in Cassidy’s glossary, as several letters either contain no entries, like Z and X, or very few, like N and Y. If the pattern found with the letters dealt with so far is repeated with the rest of the letters, it is unlikely that there will even be one new credible word of Irish origin out of the hundreds given by Cassidy in his book.  

In other words, far from being a scholar or a political radical or a supporter of the Irish language, Cassidy was an arrogant, narcissistic flake who was constitutionally incapable of telling the truth. For twelve years, this worthless creep drew a university salary as a professor, in spite of the fact that he flunked his degree and had no qualifications. Cassidy has been dead for years. He is now beyond shame, though he is still not beyond disgrace. Scum like Peter Quinn, Terence Winch, Michael Patrick MacDonald, Joe Lee, Peter Linebaugh, Eamonn McCann, Corinne Marrinan, the board of the San Francisco Irish Crossroads Festival and the rest of the dim-witted pseudo-intellectual cronies of Daniel Cassidy are still with us.

They disgust me, not because of their stupidity in letting themselves be deceived by this con-artist in the first place, but because of their unwillingness to admit they were conned and apologise. These are people who are so up themselves that they won’t admit to making a mistake, even if that means that ordinary, decent people continue to be conned by the flagrant rubbish they recommended. They deserve to be mocked and treated with utter contempt by all right-thinking people.

Some Tweets/Roinnt Giolcacha

I have noticed a few interesting things on Twitter recently. One was a conversation between two people who both realised what an idiot Cassidy was very quickly.

Seán Óg Mac Cionnaith wrote the following on the 5th of July 2018.

Some hack wrote a whole book full of this shite – How The Irish Invented Slang. Infuriating paddywhackery.

On the same day, Mike Duffy in New York replied with this:

I was still ink-slinging for a living when that hack’s book came out and did a wee phone interview for a piece which I then dropped very, very quickly when it became clear he was full of shit.

It’s great to see people with bullshit sensors that actually work. Less acceptable is a comment by sean_flah in reply to the Rubberbandits, who, for reasons known only to themselves, are continuing to spread this trash about the Irish origin of slang.

The stuff about ‘dig / tuig’, the notion we have now that they are linked comes from Daniel Cassidy, the NY academic who wrote ‘How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads’ around 10-15 years ago (not long before he died).

He then went on to say:

Long story short, consensus among quite a few is that he was a fella with a hammer that saw nails absolutely everywhere. Drawing links between things that I suppose couldn’t be disproved, but likewise couldn’t be proven either. An interesting subject to contemplate all the same.

There are several points that need to be made here. Cassidy had nothing to do with the idea that dig and twig come from tuig. The association of tuig with twig goes back to Walter Skeat, who died in 1912. Both twig and dig and their origin from tuig were discussed in a paper by Eric P. Hamp, first published in 1981. Also, Daniel Cassidy was not an academic. He had no degrees or qualifications. You need at least one degree or one major life achievement to be an academic. Cassidy had nothing to offer anyone.

The comment about hammers and nails is quite apt but is then completely ruined by the silly comment about things that can’t be disproved or proven. I mean, why can’t they? OK, in the case of twig and tuig or dig and an dtuigeann, it’s quite hard to make that call. However, most of the one-word derivations given by Cassidy, whether original to him or plagiarised, are demonstrably nonsense. In the case of longshoreman, there is plenty of evidence that it is from ‘men along the shore’ and not from loingseoir. There are words like gump, which Cassidy says comes from Irish colm, meaning a dove. This is plainly rubbish because colm doesn’t sound anything like gump. And then there are words like beathais, Cassidy’s candidate for booze, which doesn’t exist at all.

But of course, most of Cassidy’s derivations are not individual words. They are phrases like sách úr and béal ónna and éamh call, phrases that don’t exist in Irish. Quite simply, if the only evidence that a phrase like uath dubh exists in Irish is the word of Daniel Cassidy, a proven liar who didn’t know any Irish, there isn’t any evidence and nobody should believe these claims.

 

Thug mé roinnt rudaí faoi deara ar Twitter ar na mallaibh. Ceann amháin acu, comhrá a bhí ann idir beirt fhear a thuig láithreach nach raibh sa Chaisideach ach amadán.

Scríobh Seán Óg Mac Cionnaith an méid seo ar an 5ú Iúil 2018.

Some hack wrote a whole book full of this shite – How The Irish Invented Slang. Infuriating paddywhackery.

Ar an lá chéanna, fuair sé freagra ó Mike Duffy i Nua-Eabhrac:

I was still ink-slinging for a living when that hack’s book came out and did a wee phone interview for a piece which I then dropped very, very quickly when it became clear he was full of shit.

Is breá an rud é daoine a aimsiú atá ábalta cacamas a aithint gan stró. Is lú an t-áthas a chuir na tráchtanna seo orm, freagraí a scríobh sean_flah ar na Rubberbandits. De réir cosúlachta, (agus níl a fhios agam cad chuige!) tá na Robálaithe Rubair ag scaipeadh na raiméise seo faoi bhunús Gaeilge an bhéarlagair go fóill.

The stuff about ‘dig / tuig’, the notion we have now that they are linked comes from Daniel Cassidy, the NY academic who wrote ‘How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads’ around 10-15 years ago (not long before he died).

Lean sé leis mar seo:

Long story short, consensus among quite a few is that he was a fella with a hammer that saw nails absolutely everywhere. Drawing links between things that I suppose couldn’t be disproved, but likewise couldn’t be proven either. An interesting subject to contemplate all the same.

Tá roinnt rudaí le soiléiriú anseo. Ar an chéad dul síos, ní raibh baint ar bith ag an Chaisideach leis an nóisean gurb ionann dig agus twig i mBéarla agus tuig sa Ghaeilge. An nasc idir tuig agus twig, is féidir é a rianú siar a fhad le Walter Skeat, a fuair bás sa bhliain 1912. Pléadh twig agus dig agus an bhaint atá acu le tuig i bpáipéar acadúil le Eric P. Hamp, a foilsíodh den chéad uair sa bhliain 1981. Ní hamháin sin, ach ní féidir ‘academic’ a thabhairt ar Daniel Cassidy. Ní raibh céimeanna ná cáilíochtaí aige. Tá ar a laghad céim amháin nó mór-éacht amháin i saol an léinn de dhíth ar dhuine le stádas léachtóra a bhaint amach. Ní raibh rud ar bith le tairiscint ag Cassidy do dhuine ar bith.

Tá an méid atá le rá aige faoi chasúr agus tairní go hiomlán ceart ach ansin, scriosann sé é leis an amaidí faoi rudaí nach féidir iad a chruthú ná a dhíchruthú. Cad chuige nach féidir iad a chruthú ná a dhíchruthú? Maith go leor, i gcás twig agus tuig nó dig agus an dtuigeann, b’fhéidir nach féidir é a chinntiú bealach amháin ná bealach eile. Agus sin ráite, an chuid is mó de na sanasaíochtaí aonfhocail a thug an Caisideach, idir chinn a chum sé féin nó chinn a ghoid sé, is deargraiméis iad. I gcás longshoreman, tá neart fianaise ann gur tháinig sin ó ‘men along the shore’ agus ní ó loingseoir. Tá focail ann ar nós gump. Dúirt Cassidy gurb ionann gump agus colm na Gaeilge, ainneoin nach bhfuil an dá fhocal cosúil lena chéile ar chor ar bith. Agus tá focail ann ar nós beathuis, an focal a bhfuair an Béarla an focal booze uaidh, dar le Cassidy. Ach ar ndóigh, níl a leithéid d’fhocal ann agus beathais. Chum Cassidy é.

Ach ar ndóigh, ní focail aonair iad an chuid is mó de na sanasaíochtaí a bhí ag Cassidy. Is frásaí iad ar nós sách úr agus béal ónna agus éamh call, frásaí nach bhfuil ann sa Ghaeilge. Lena mhíniú go simplí, mura bhfuil fianaise ar bith ann go bhfuil frása mar uath dubh le fáil sa Ghaeilge ach gur mhaígh bréagadóir cruthanta nach raibh Gaeilge ar bith aige darbh ainm Daniel Cassidy sin, ní fianaise sin agus níor chóir do dhuine ar bith muinín a chur i raiméis mar sin.

September 2018’s Twits of the Month – The Vintage News

The September 2018 Twit of the Month is a site called The Vintage News. They have put up a short video called American slang words we never knew were invented by the Irish. In the video, a lot of ridiculous derivations made up by Cassidy are given, along with a couple which Cassidy borrowed from more trustworthy sources:

Snazzy =Snasah: (sic, Snasach is the right version). Cassidy didn’t make this one up. Although the connection between snazzy and snasach is believable enough, it is not likely to be correct. When the term snazzy was first used, it referred to a person called Snazelle – Snazzy was his nickname.

Spiel = Speal. A speal is a scythe, an instrument used to cut grass. It rhymes with the name Al. There is a similar word in Scots Gaelic and there is a subsidiary meaning in that language, namely, sharp words. In other words, that isn’t its meaning in the Irish language. And of course, spiel comes from German (apparently, it’s not from Yiddish – see comments below).

Baloney = Béal ónna. Of course, there is no such phrase as béal ónna. Daniel Cassidy made it up.

Bunkum = Buanchumadh. We have discussed this one before. It is a reference to Buncombe County, and a politician called Felix Walker. There is no such phrase as buanchumadh. It is simply nonsense made up by Daniel Cassidy.

Swell = Sóúil. Sóúil means luxurious (hardly a match to any meaning of the word swell) and it is pronounced so-ool, which doesn’t sound much like swell either. Also, the real origin of swell is well-known and explained here: https://www.etymonline.com/word/swell

Slugger = slacaire. Slacaire sounds like slackarra, so why would it have become slugger, not slacker? Also, there are lots of words in English which have meanings like beating, trudging, words like slug and slog and slag, as well as words like schlagen in German. You can find some notes on them here: https://www.etymonline.com/word/slug#etymonline_v_23704

Dork = dorc. According to this idiotic piece of non-information on Vintage News, the Irish dorc means dwarf. Really? News to me. And the word dork is widely believed to be a disguised form of ‘dick’.

Croney = comh-roghna. Again, this is an entirely fake phrase invented by Cassidy. Croney is believed to be Cambridge slang of the late 17th century and derived from Greek chronios, old.

Phoney = fáinne (ring). This is quite likely true (in my opinion) but predates Cassidy by decades. It possibly derives from fake gold rings used in scams, known as fawneys. However, the link is not universally accepted, and David L. Gold, who is a knowledgeable and intelligent etymologist, is one of the sceptics.

Dude = dúd. There is no evidence for a Gaelic origin of dude, a 19th century term for a dandy. Most scholars regard it as derived from the song Yankee Doodle Dandy, who stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni (macaroni was 18th century slang for a dandy).

Slum = ‘s lom (é). Is lom é is a made-up Cassidy phrase. Even if it did exist, anyone with any background in linguistics will realise that phrases like this are not usually borrowed. Also, slums are not usually bare, which is the meaning of lom. And of course, as it originally referred to bedrooms or flophouses, the word slum almost certainly comes from slumber.

Fluke = fo-luach. According to Cassidy, this phrase means a windfall or a rare reward. The phrase fo-luach does not exist and if it did, it would mean something like a ‘subsidiary value’. Pure nonsense.

Nincompoop = naioidhean. Actually, Cassidy’s original claim was that nincompoop comes from the ‘Irish’ naioidhean ar chuma búb, supposedly an insulting phrase meaning an infant in the shape of a booby. This is not a real phrase, of course. Nincompoop probably comes from the Latin phrase Non compos mentis.

Scam = ‘s cam é. Cassidy claims that scam comes from this phrase, which might just mean ‘it is crooked’. So, when you say, it’s a scam, you are apparently saying It’s an it is crooked. Yeah, right. In reality, there are a number of possible origins for scam. The front runner is probably the Spanish escamotear, which is a verb meaning to scam or to rob.

Boogaloo = bogadh luath. According to Cassidy, the phrase boogaloo comes from Irish. Boogaloo comes from bogadh luath, which means ‘early moving’ and is pronounced bogga looa or boggoo looa. Why? What connection does this have to the known uses of boogaloo? Your guess is as good as mine. Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, boogaloo is believed to have been coined in the 1960s, and derives from the onomatopoeic music style boogie-woogie.

Puss = pus. This is true but is accepted by all dictionaries and predates Cassidy by decades. Puss as in a dig in the puss or a sourpuss (not puss as in cat) comes from the Irish word pus, which means a pouting lip.

So, what have we got here? A couple of (perhaps) genuine derivations from Irish, along with a large collection of fantasy nonsense invented by the late Daniel Cassidy in his book How The Irish Invented Slang. The comments, which number nearly 2000, are interesting. Many people expressed scepticism about this nonsense, especially spiel, which is the most obviously wrong. Eoin Ó Murchú pointed out that this was all rubbish derived from Cassidy’s book. One person, Dilean Mac Searraigh, said “Most of these are ridiculous … there are Irish words in English … but these are totally inaccurate gibberish. Someone literally just made them up.”

The critics were then rebuked by someone called Rhonda Pennington:

I can’t believe a fun post like this has generated such snarky remarks. It’s all in fun. Why does everything have to be an argument these days? Where is your sense of humour, people?

I’m sure others will be wondering the same as me. Where exactly is the fun? Where’s the humour? This is largely a collection of fantasy without any foundation in fact. Yet there is no indication that this is ironic or not meant to be true. What has promoting non-facts that aren’t true about other people’s languages and cultures to do with fun, especially languages which have been subject to discrimination for generations? If this were claiming to be a list of words and phrases from Gullah or Cherokee but it was mostly made-up, I’m inclined to think that it wouldn’t be regarded as fun. I think most people would regard it as cultural appropriation or (and this is the way I view it) as racism.

I choose to take The Vintage News’ rubbish as a deliberate attempt to deceive, because the facts about Cassidy and his dishonesty have been out there for years. The people at Vintage News did no research. Vintage News is responsible for deliberately spreading nonsense as if it were fact, and nobody is deserving of anyone’s respect or tolerance for being a liar, however funny they think these lies are.

Amadáin na Míosa, Meán Fómhair 2018 – The Vintage News

Is é Amadán na Míosa i Mi Mheán an Fhómhair 2018 ná suiomh a bhfuil The Vintage News air. Tá físeán beag acu darb ainm American slang words we never knew were invented by the Irish. San fhíseán, tugtar a lán sanasaíochtai aiféiseacha a chum Cassidy, maraon le dornán a fuair Cassidy  ó fhoinsí atá níos iontaofa:

Snazzy =Snasah: (ar ndóigh, Snasach an leagan ceart). Níor chum Cassidy an ceann seo. Cé go bhfuil an nasc idir snazzy agus snasach sochreidte go leor, ní dócha go bhfuil sé ceart. Nuair a baineadh úsáid as Snazzy den chéad uair, bhi sé ag tagairt do dhuine darbh ainm Snazelle – Snazzy an leasainm a bhí air.

Spiel = Speal. Ciallaíonn speal gléas a úsáidtear le féar a ghearradh. Rímeann sé leis an ainm Al. Tá focal cosúil leis i nGaidhlig na hAlban agus tá fochiall leis sa teanga sin, mar atá, focail ghéara. Ní Gaeilge sin, mar sin. Agus ar ndóigh, tagann spiel ón Ghearmáinis. (Nil baint ar bith aige leis an Ghiúdais, de réir cosúlachta.)

Baloney = Béal ónna. Ar ndóigh, níl a leithéid de fhrása ann agus béal ónna. Chum Daniel Cassidy é.

Bunkum = Buanchumadh. Tá an ceann seo pléite againn roimhe seo. Tagairt atá ann do Buncombe County, agus polaiteoir darbh ainm Felix Walker. Níl a leithéid de fhrása ann agus buanchumadh. Níl ann ach cumadóireacht eile de chuid Cassidy.

Swell = Sóúil. Ciallaionn an focal sóúil saibhir, sómasach, galánta (níl baint dhíreach idir ciall an fhocail seo agus ciall an fhocail swell) agus níl sé róchosuil leis an fhocal swell ó thaobh fuaime de. Ní hamháin sin, ach tá fíorbhunús swell aitheanta ag na saineolaithe. Tá an bunús sin mínithe anseo: https://www.etymonline.com/word/swell

Slugger = slacaire. Níl slugger iontach cosúil le slacaire ó thaobh fuaime de, ar ndóigh. Tá a lán focal i mBéarla a bhfuil ciallanna ar nós bualadh, siúl go trom srl. acu, focail ar nós slug agus slog agus slag, chomh maith le focail ar nós schlagen sa Ghearmáinis. Thig leat nótaí a fháil orthu ach an nasc seo a leanúint: https://www.etymonline.com/word/slug#etymonline_v_23704

Dork = dorc. De réir na raiméise seo ar Vintage News, ciallaíonn an focal dorc ‘abhac’ i nGaeilge. An gciallaíonn? Níor chuala mise sin riamh. Agus de réir na saineolaithe, is leagan truaillithe den fhocal Béarla ‘dick’ atá san fhocal sin dork.

Croney = comh-roghna. Creidtear gur béarlagair Ollscoil Cambridge atá ann, a cumadh sa 17ú haois agus a tháinig ó chronios, focal Gréigise a chiallaíonn ‘sean’.

Phoney = fáinne (ring). Tá an ceann seo fíor, is dócha, (dar liomsa, cibé) ach bhí sé ann i bhfad sular thosaigh Cassidy ar a fheachtas cumadóireachta. Tagann sé ó na fáinní (fawneys) a bhí in úsáid le daoine a robáil. Agus sin ráite, nil gach duine ar aon intinn faoin nasc idir fawney agus phoney, agus tá David L. Gold, sanasaí cumasach éirimiúil, ar dhuine de na sceiptigh.

Dude = dúd. Níl fianaise dá laghad ann gur Gaeilge é dude, téarma ar ghaige sa 19ú haois. An chuid is mó de na scoláirí, deir siad gur tháinig sé ón amhrán Yankee Doodle Dandy, a sháigh cleite ina chaipín agus a thug macaroni air (i mbéarlagair an 18ú haois, bhí an chiall gaige leis an fhocal macaroni fosta).

Slum = ‘s lom (é). Is frása de na frásaí a chum Cassidy é ‘Is lom é’. Agus fiú dá mbeadh an frása sin ann, thuigfeadh duine ar bith a bhfuil cúlra aige nó aici sa teangeolaíocht nach ndéantar frásai mar seo a fháil ar iasacht. Ní hamháin sin, ach ní bhíonn plódcheantair ‘lom’. Agus ar ndóigh, áit chodlata an chiall a bhí le slum agus mar sin de, is dócha go bhfuil baint ag an fhocal leis an Bhéarla ‘slumber’.

Fluke = fo-luach. De réir Cassidy, ciallaíonn fo-luach deonú Dé nó duais neamhchoitianta. Níl a leithéid de chor cainte ann sa Ghaeilge agus dá mbeadh, is é ‘subsidiary value’ nó rud éigin mar sin an chiall a bheadh aige. Raiméis agus amaidí!

Nincompoop = naioidhean. Lena rá mar is ceart, is é a mhaígh Cassidy’s ná gur tháinig nincompoop ón ‘Ghaeilge’ naioidhean ar chuma búb. Dar le Cassidy, is masla é seo a bhí coitianta sa Ghaeilge fadó. Ní fíorGhaeilge é sin, ar ndóigh. Is dócha go bhfuair an Béarla nincompoop ón fhrása Laidin non compos mentis.

Scam = ‘s cam é. Deir Cassidy gur tháinig scam ón fhrása seo, atá cineál aisteach (déarfá ‘tá sé cam’ de ghnáth). Mar sin de, nuair a deir tú ‘it’s a scam’, is é atá á rá agat i nGaeilge ná ‘Is is cam é é!’ Aidhe, is dócha go bhfuil an ceart agat. Is é fírinne an scéil go bhfuil a lán sanasaíochtaí féideartha ann. An ceann is minice a luaitear ná an briathar Spáinnise escamotear, a chiallaíonn duine a scamáil nó a robáil.

Boogaloo = bogadh luath. Dar le Cassidy, is ón Ghaeilge a tháinig an focal boogaloo, ón fhrása bogadh luath (?). Ar ndóigh, níl bogadh luath cosúil le boogaloo agus níl baint ar bith idir boogaloo agus bogadh luath ó thaobh céille de. Ach, le filleadh ar réadúlachta an phláinéid seo, creidtear gur cumadh boogaloo sna 1960í, agus gur leagan atá ann den stíl cheoil boogie-woogie, a bhfuil a ainm onamataipéach, is dócha.

Puss = pus. Tá an ceann seo fíor, ach glacann gach foclóir Béarla leis an tsanasaíocht seo agus bhí an ceann seo ann i bhfad sular scríobh Cassidy a leabhar. Tagann puss (sa chiall a dig in the puss nó sourpuss) ón fhocal Gaeilge pus.

Cad é atá againn anseo, mar sin? Cúpla fíorshanasaíocht ón Ghaeilge, agus a lán finscéalaíocht agus raiméis a chum Daniel Cassidy ina leabhar How The Irish Invented Slang. Na tráchtanna ar Facebook, is mór an díol spéise iad. Scríobh a lán daoine nach raibh an raiméis seo inchreidte, go háirithe an téarma spiel, ar léir gur ón Ghearmáinis nó ón Ghiúdáis a tháinig sé. Dúirt Eoin P. Ó Murchú (bullaí fir, a Eoin!) go neamhbhalbh gur raiméis a bhí ann a fuarthas ó leabhar Cassidy. Scríobh duine amháin, Dilean Mac Searraigh: ““Most of these are ridiculous … there are Irish words in English … but these are totally inaccurate gibberish. Someone literally just made them up.”

Ach is léir gur chuir sé isteach go mór ar óinseach darb ainm Rhonda Pennington go raibh daoine ag cosaint na fírinne in áit bréaga a scaipeadh go randamach:

I can’t believe a fun post like this has generated such snarky remarks. It’s all in fun. Why does everything have to be an argument these days? Where is your sense of humour, people?

Tá mé cinnte nach mise an t-aon duine leis an cheist seo a thógáil, ach cá háit a bhfuil an chraic? Cad é an greann? Is é atá sa stuif seo ná bailiúchán finscéalta nach bhfuil fréamhaithe san fhírinne ar chor ar bith. Ach níl rud ar bith ann a thugann le fios gur íoróin atá ann nó nach bhfuil sé in ainm a bheith fíor. Cad é go díreach an bhaint idir acmhainn grinn agus fíricí bréaga a chur chun tosaigh faoi theangacha agus faoi chultúir daoine eile, go háirithe teangacha a bhfuil leatrom á dhéanamh orthu leis na glúnta? Dá mbeadh siad ag maíomh gur liosta d’fhocail a tháinig ó Gullah nó Cherokee atá ann, ach nach raibh sa chuid ba mhó de ach deargchumadóireacht, ní dóigh liom go nglacfadh daoine leis nach raibh ann ach craic. Is dócha go sílfeadh an chuid ba mhó de na daoine nach raibh ann ach leithghabháil chultúrtha nó (an dearcadh atá agam féin) ciníochas lom.

De réir cosúlachta, tá Pennington ag rá linn anseo, nuair a chaitheann duine lán sluaiste de chac ar do chloigeann, ba chóir duit do bhuíochas a ghabháil leo go muinte, iarraidh orthu tuilleadh caca a chaitheamh anuas ort agus glacadh leis nach bhfuil ann ach píosa grinn. Cead agatsa sin a dhéanamh, a Rhonda (cé nach í an teanga s’agatsa atá faoi ionsaí, ar ndóigh). Is fearr liom féin amharc air seo mar iarracht dallamullóg a chur ar dhaoine d’aon turas, mar go bhfuil an fhírinne faoi Cassidy agus a mhí-ionracas amuigh ansin leis na blianta. Ní dhearna muintir Vintage News taighde ar bith. Tá Vintage News freagrach as raiméis a scaipeadh mar a bheadh fírinne ann, agus níl meas nó caonfhulaingt tuillte acusan nó agatsa ó dhuine ar bith as bréaga a insint, is cuma cé chomh greannmhar agus atá na bréaga céanna, dar leat féin.

 

More on the Irish dude

I have dealt before with Cassidy’s ridiculous claims about the word ‘dude’. If you have the stomach for it, you can listen to Cassidy spouting rubbish about this subject with his usual mixture of pomposity and incompetence to an adoring audience of sycophants and dimwits at the NY Tenement Museum: http://tenement-museum.blogspot.com/2008/10/danny-cassidy.html

If, like me, you find Cassidy’s self-satisfied nasal twang and utter lack of humility a real turn-off, perhaps you will prefer to read his nonsense in relation to this question instead of listening to it. Here is the way that Cassidy’s claims about the Irish origins of ‘dude’ appeared on CounterPunch:

Dude, n.,a dapper dandy; a ‘swell,’ an affected, fastidious fop; a city slicker at a dude ranch. “Origin unknown.” (Barnhart Dictionary of English Etymology, 305.)
Dúd, (pron. dood), dúd(a), al. dúid, n., a foolish-looking fellow; a dolt, a numbskull; a clown; an idiot; a rubbernecker; a long-necked eavesdropper. (Dineen, 377, 378; Ó Dónaill, 459, 460.)
Dúdach, adj., rubber-necked; foolish-looking, queer. Dúdaire, n., a clown, an idiot (Kerry); a long-necked person; a dolt; an eavesdropper. Dúdálaí, n., a stupid person; an idiot; a self-conscious person. (Dineen, 377, 378; Ó Dónaill, 459, 460, Foclóir Póca, 349, 350)
Dúd (pron. dood, a dolt) was a moniker Irish Americans slapped on slumming, dapper, wealthy, young “swells,” out on a “spree” (spraoi, fun, sport, frolic, a drinking bout) in the concert saloons, dance halls, and theaters of old New York.

So, anyone reading Cassidy’s account would think that there is a complex of Irish terms like diúid, dúid, dúdaire, dúdálaí, dúidín and dúdóg, all of which apparently refer to people. That’s Cassidy’s version. Let’s have a look at the truth instead of Cassidy’s version.

There seem to be at least two separate words here. Diúid is an obscure adjective meaning 1. Simple, uncomplicated. 2. Straightforward, sincere. 3. Simple-minded, silly. (According to Ó Dónaill’s dictionary) It doesn’t seem to have any relationship to the word dúid, which seems to be the origin of all the other words given above. Dúid is a noun. It sometimes occurs in older texts as dúda. Here are its meanings (again from Ó Dónaill):

dúid, f. (gs. ~e, pl. ~eanna).1. Stump. Rud a ghearradh (amach, aníos) ón ~, ó bhun na ~e, to cut sth. right down to the stump. Chuir an tarbh an adharc go bun na ~e, go filleadh ~e, ann, the bull stuck his horn right into him. 2. (a) Stumpy object, protuberant part; (short) horn, (cropped) ear, tail. (b) Short-stemmed (clay) pipe. 3. (Craned) neck, throat. ~ a chur ort féin, to crane one’s neck; to turn one’s head shyly away; to eavesdrop; to mope around. Greim ~e a fháil ar dhuine, to grasp s.o. by the neck, to fasten on s.o. Rud a chur ar do dhúid, to swallow hard at sth., to gulp sth. down one’s throat. 4. (a) Stumpy person. (b) Mopish, shy person; numbskull. (Var:~eán m)

Unfortunately, the field of Irish-language etymology has been neglected down the years. We don’t even have a basic etymological dictionary in Irish for common words. When I have searched for it in Irish texts and also on Google, I have come across many instances where duid is a misspelling of duit (for or to you), or of dóid (a fist or hand).

These terms are not primarily about people. Terms like dúid and dúidín seem to refer to stumps, stump-like objects, tubes, the neck, the ear, small trumpets or smoking pipes. It is used in phrases like gearrtha go dúid, (cut down to the stump) and the secondary words like dúdaire and dúdálaí (which mean things like rubbernecker or eavesdropper) acquired these meanings from the notion of someone craning their neck to hear or see things that are none of their business.

What about dúid being used as an insulting term for a person? Is there any evidence of this? Well, Ó Dónaill in his Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla gives it as having the meaning stumpy person or shy person or numbskull, though this is the fourth and final meaning given. And both Dinneen and Ó Dónaill give the word galldúda with the definition of an ignorant, clownish person. (The first bit is presumably gall, meaning foreign, non-Gaelic.)

Apart from these two sources, I have not come across any instance of dúid or dúda being used as a dismissive term for people in Irish texts. In other words, its use in this way is very rare, and because of this, we have to ask ourselves if this is the, or even a word, that Irish-speaking people would have used when they saw some dandy strutting through their area. After all, the implication of Ó Dónaill’s definition is that a dúid is someone who is stumpy, shy, awkward, who doesn’t do much. The primary meaning of dude in English is an exhibitionist, someone who flaunts their wealth and their style.

Add to that the appropriateness of the usual etymologist’s derivation from Yankee Doodle and its clear association with dandyism, and Cassidy’s claim starts to look like what it is – a load of ignorant, distorted flim-flam from a loud-mouthed, narcissistic con-man with no skills and no qualifications.

Another Sock Puppet

As I have already mentioned in several posts (Another Cassidy Sock Puppet; Mr and Mrs Sock Puppet), in the period around November 2007 to January 2008, a number of fake reviews of Cassidy’s book appeared in various places on the internet. This is another example from 28 November 2007, which can be found on the Thomas Pynchon Wiki.

How can I be so sure that this is Cassidy? Well, there is the obsession with the Irish origin of jazz. The typical dig at the OED. The usual line about the Gorta Mor (recte Gorta Mór or Drochshaol to real Irish speakers). The ludicrous claims that bunkum and hoodoo and spiel and baloney come from Irish. Nobody apart from Cassidy ever claimed that and all of these claims are nonsense.

And then there’s the casual comment at the end, which is saying that the author isn’t Cassidy but there is a book I’ve just found out about which is bound to discuss these terms and many others! It is important that people realise that Cassidy wasn’t just wrong. He was also a humungous liar who lied continually and without the least guilt or embarrassment.

 

Jazz / Jass

The OED lists the earliest print usage of “Jazz,” originally a dance and not, as in current use, the musical form, as 1909. The exact dating of this episode is unclear, though it seems likely to have occurred earlier. The usage is not anachronistic though its precise usage(as a musical form rather than a dance)may be unknown. As for the unusual spelling, the OED lists “Jass” as a variant, though with no information as to where or when it was prevalent. see OED article above.

In my music student days, I was told Jazz was a Creole word. It’s no secret that the Empire builders made sure to extirpate or pervert language and culture from countries under their protection. (See discussion of Tartan on pg. 220) Not that one shouldn’t trust the OED, but it is an ENGLISH DICTIONARY. New Orleans was the third largest disembarkation port for poor Irish fleeing An Gorta Mor (or ‘Famine’ as some would have it) They came as ballast on returning trans-Atlantic cotton ships. They liked N.O. because it was a Catholic city and the City Fathers liked them because they worked for next to nothing on projects like the New Basin Canal and were also content to work and live with the Black population. Quite a few slang words came into American English from the original Irish (galore, baloney (as in foolish talk, not meat), bunkum, hoodoo, spiel, and those gangster words for face and mouth: pus and gob!) There is an Irish language word spelled teas in Irish letters and pronounced tjazs in our letters. It suggests excitement or passion and could be connected to the blend of dance that led from Irish step to American tap.

I learned today of a book, How the Irish Invented Slang:The Secret Language of the Crossroads by Professor Dan Cassidy [1] which I’m sure has these and more.

Ditch

This is one of the silliest claims in a very silly book. I mean, how stupid would you need to be to believe that the word ditch (as in ‘she ditched him’) comes from the supposed Irish phrase de áit? The phrase de áit isn’t in use in Irish and never has been.

The two words exist independently, of course. De means from or ‘off of’, ‘from the surface of’ (bhain siad an pictiúr den bhalla – they took the picture off of the wall), while áit means place. And occasionally they occur together in phrases like an phrochlais sin de áit (that dump of a place) or taobh amuigh de áit (outside of a place) but in the standard language, this would usually become d’áit and it isn’t anything to do with displacing or dislodging or dumping in these cases. If you want to say that someone displaced something or put it out of its place you would use as áit, not de áit: cuireadh na brící as áit nuair a thit an scafall orthu (the bricks were dislodged when the scaffolding fell on them). So, de áit is pretty much impossible as the origin of ditch.

The English ditch, on the other hand, is a very likely source. A ditch, meaning a kind of trench at the side of the road (or sometimes the bank beside the trench in Ireland), comes from the Old English word dic. And in the old days, when you had some rubbish you dumped it in the ditch, or ditched it. In time, this became a general term for discarding or dumping.

This isn’t rocket science. I do have academic degrees but you don’t need a degree (or even the high-school certificate that Cassidy had instead of a degree) to work out that Cassidy’s claim is nonsense. All you need is reasonable literacy skills, access to the internet and an open and sensible mind. Which is why I find it really strange that so many people are prepared to support a book that contains so many transparent stupidities like this.

Seo ceann de na rudaí is bómánta dá maíonn Cassidy sa leabhar amaideach seo. Bheadh ort bheith millteanach ramhar sa réasún lena chreidiúint gur ón fhrása ‘Gaeilge’ de áit a thagann an focal Béarla ditch (mar shampla, sa fhrása ‘she ditched him’.  Níl na focail de áit le fáil sa Ghaeilge agus ní raibh riamh.

Tá an dá fhocal ann leo féin, ar ndóigh. Ciallaíonn de ó ó dhromchla ruda  (bhain siad an pictiúr den bhalla), agus is ionann áit agus ionad. Agus bíonn an dá fhocal ag teacht le chéile corruair i bhfrásaí mar an phrochlais sin de áit nó  taobh amuigh de áit ach sa Chaighdeán, dhéanfaí d’áit de sin, agus ní bhaineann sé le rudaí a dhíláithriú sna cásanna seo.  Bhainfeá úsáid as as áit, ní de áit le sin a rá – cuireadh na brící as áit nuair a thit an scafall orthu, mar shampla. Mar sin de, níl seans dá laghad go bhfuil de áit ceart mar bhunús an Bhéarla ditch.

Ar an láimh eile, tá an focal Béarla ditch thar a bheith fóirsteanach agus thar a bheith soiléir mar mhíniú. Tagann an focal ditch, a chiallaíonn ‘díog’, ón fhocal Sean-Bhéarla dic. Agus sna seanlaethanta, nuair a bhí bruscar agat, dhéantaí é a dhumpáil sa díog, nó é a ‘ditcheáil’. Leis na blianta, fuair an focal ditching an chiall chéanna le dumping.

Ní rud deacair casta é seo. Tá céimeanna ollscoile agam ach níl céim de dhíth ar dhuine (ná fiú an teastas ardscoile a bhí ag Cassidy in áit céimeanna) lena oibriú amach gur raiméis é an méid a dúirt Cassidy faoin fhocal seo. Níl de dhíth ar dhuine ach scileanna réasúnta litearthachta, teacht ar an Idirlíon agus intinn oscailte chiallmhar. Sin an fáth a gcuireann sé a oiread sin iontais orm go bhfuil a oiread sin daoine sásta tacú le leabhar a bhfuil a oiread sin bómántachtaí follasacha ar nós an chinn seo ann.

 

 

 

 

 

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig

 

St Patrick’s Day is here again, so it seems like a good opportunity once again to attack Cassidy’s rubbish book of fake Irish, to encourage people to learn a little of the real thing, and to say a couple of words about the philosophy of language learning.

At this time of year, many people in the Irish diaspora take an interest in their culture and history. Because of the irresponsible behaviour of a number of prominent members of the Irish-American establishment like Peter Quinn, Joe Lee, Michael Patrick MacDonald, Tom Deignan, the organisers of the San Francisco Irish-American Crossroads Festival and countless others, who recommended and continue to recommend this nonsense to gullible people, this book is still being sold. This is a disgrace. Cassidy’s ‘research’ is a cruel and disgusting hoax and IMHO no decent person would support it. However, thanks in part to this blog, people are now much more aware of how dishonest and foolish this book is, so the newspaper articles about Cassidy’s linguistic ‘revelations’ which used to appear at this time of year have been considerably fewer over the last couple of years. The only major organ (yes, I’m aware of the innuendo) of the diaspora which still supports this raiméis is the egregious IrishCentral. They continue to republish a semi-literate ‘review’ of Cassidy’s book by some 9/11 Truther called Brendan Patrick Keane.

Anyway, it seems appropriate to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with some handy (and GENUINE) phrases in our beautiful Ulster dialect of the Irish language.

 

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig duit!

Ban-akh-tee na fayla pahrig ditch!

Blessings of St Patrick’s day to you!

 

Go raibh míle maith agat.

Go roh meela moy oggut!

A thousand thanks!

 

Tá sé iontach deas inniu.

Tah shay intah jass inyoo.

It’s very nice today.

 

Sláinte mhór agus saol fada agat!

Slahn-chya wore ogus seel fadda oggut!

Good health and long life to you!

 

If you want some more information on these things, there are hundreds of resources on line. Focloir.ie is particularly good and has audio files for common words. Just don’t trust anything you read on IrishCentral, in any language, and don’t use Cassidy’s book as a source for learning Irish!

As for the philosophy of language learning, here’s a few points for people thinking of learning Irish:

DO

  • learn a little every day – start NOW!
  • label things you use every day – fridge, cooker, car, door
  • write common words or phrases on cards and carry them round with you
  • learn a few proverbs or songs by heart
  • use apps and words of the day and the Kindle and other new technology
  • get output by TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta and listen to the language as much as possible (without bothering about understanding it) just to get used to the sounds and intonation

DON’T

  • go to a class once a week and forget about it the rest of the time
  • try to learn everything at once and get disheartened when you can’t
  • use Google Translate to translate INTO Irish (it’s useful to get an idea of what a text means in a language you don’t speak well or at all but, for example, if you put I cycled a lot into Google Translate, you get Rothar mé go leor, which is garbage!)
  • make up sentences which are too complicated for you – stick to the structures you know to be correct. Walk, then run! There’s no point in practising elaborate structures which are wrong. Stick to simple sentences which are right! 
  • Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!!

Booze

I have noticed that many of the early posts on this blog get relatively little traffic, so I have decided to start republishing some of them.

This is a typically ridiculous Cassidy claim. Scholars have quite rightly identified that this word is Germanic in origin and is linked to the Dutch word busen, which meant to drink to excess. Booze is a long-established word in English, both as a verb and as a noun. For example, searching on the Michigan Middle English Dictionary website, I found this, from around 1325: Hail, ȝe holi monkes..Late and raþe ifillid of ale and wine! Depe cun ȝe bouse. (Hail, you holy monks. Late and early filled with ale and wine! Deep can you booze.)

Cassidy disagrees. On the basis of his vast knowledge of the Irish language (!) he believes that this word derives from an Irish word beathuis. Now, you will search in vain for this word in the dictionary. Beathuis is not a real word. Even if it were real, it wouldn’t sound much like booze. It would be pronounced as bahish.

Where did Cassidy get this word? Well, there is a word beathuisce (life-water) in the dictionaries. It is a variant of the vastly more common uisce beatha (water of life) which is the origin of English whisk(e)y. This variant seems to be found mostly in songs and poems and is probably used in these contexts for reasons of metre, because it has 3 syllables rather than 4. It is pronounced bahishka. So what about the inconvenient –ka at the end? After all, nobody talks about boozeka in English! According to Cassidy, beathuisce was shortened to beathuis. He gives no evidence of this or reason for it, and it seems about as likely as someone in English contracting the word water to wart.

So, to recap, there is a perfectly good derivation from Dutch which fits the facts, sounds right and has the right meaning, and was established in English by the early 14th century. And there is a completely improbable candidate which doesn’t sound like booze and which was made up by Cassidy by mutilating a rare variant word beathuisce, the ‘word’ beathuis.

Which is correct? I’ll leave you to make up your own mind on that one!